New comics keep piling in!
Captain America: Sam Wilson #1
Nick Spencer has been a great fixture at Marvel for how often he can just come in and really make characters super relevant or take a new spin on them. Here we get the new spin as he’s given the reigns to Sam Wilson and I gotta say this is the best Captain America has been written since Ed Brubaker. Nothing against Remender’s runs with Steve and then Sam, but this is what I love about understanding who wields the shield. Deep character work and that’s what we get all over the place. This is honestly a far more and overtly political Captain America and Sam Wilson than we’ve seen in a while and I love it.
I love it. If there was a superhero book that directly addresses politics and social issues of today, it would be a book with the star-spangled man with a plan. If you’re looking for something like that, the current run of Action Comics is doing an amazing job, but this is Cap’s time. Spencer gives us an ostracized Captain America because of the public stand he’s taken and what’s clever is that it doesn’t outright show you what he’s said. It leaves it more up to readers to decipher that, but it’s intentionally blank. He’s no longer deeply tied into The Avengers and especially S.H.I.E.L.D. for that matter, the ending of this issue hinting and a huge consequence for his actions. Instead he’s got Misty Knight and D-Man as his private team that fight the good fight themselves.
The political feel and handling of the book even crosses over to the Sons of the Serpent. The political climate of the book isn’t preachy at all. It doesn’t condemn or praise one side over the other, it just shows that Sam is still his own person with his own personal beliefs and that he still very much cares about the people who he’s protecting. Spencer is taking Sam Wilson to a different place than he’s been before, but still lets us know this is Sam Wilson. The political climate does make this book a little more dense than many of the recent Marvel releases have been and there’s no way to gauge how overall reaction to that might be, but I personally loved it.
Daniel Acuña’s art is spectacular. He’s a very damn good artist who really deals in the details very well, his time on Uncanny Avengers is great evidence of that. He’s a great storyteller in his own right that balances the mixture between scenes with average citizens and heavy action very well. He gets the story across very well and that’s great.
Captain America: Sam Wilson is a far different Captain America book than we’ve gotten in a while and that’s great. The more political feel gives this book a relevant feel and need to be read as it shows it can be more than just another book of Cap throwing the shield at bad guys. It’s a book with a lot of promise and potential to it. I can’t wait to keep reading. 5/5
I Hate Fairyland #1
Skottie Young is finally putting out a creator owned comic book and with Image Comics no less. Young’s distinctive look and style with his art makes him a very well-known figure in the comic book industry and also how he interacts with his fans at cons and on social media. Young only recently got into the writing game with the very fun and exciting Rocket Raccoon book and now has his own dark, twisted, and violent spin on going to a fantastical land.
Young’s full creativity is on display here as he quickly and nicely sets up Fairyland. He engrosses readers to the crazed world and our main character, Gertrude who is on a journey to go back home after she is sucked into Fairyland. She just wants to go back home and is put on a journey with a companion to do so. We cut to twenty-seven years later and she is still there, her body the same, but inside she has very much aged and become a full-blown terror.
Taking the idea of a fairytale story and making it ultra violent is nothing quite new so the book has to really come and make a statement that you should read this and it does all of that. Young just throws us right into the lake and we go from there. I mentioned with Paper Girls that extended/double sized debut issues are something that should be done more with comic books and well I didn’t need that with Fairyland. We get a standard page count here and all the setup is done very well and actually plays in a nicely clever way of delivering its exposition that had me cracking up.
Young makes this book feel alive and I think this book could only work with his cartoonish style of art and his writing I feel is improved from Rocket Raccoon. There are so many ways in which Gertrude can be explored as a character in this unique situation she’s in. Now a book like this could easily rely on the shock value of this little girl killing things all over in a very violent manner and that fear is underlying in the book so for me I hope the book never falls into that trap. I think the second issue will need to go and prove my fears and doubts about this book completely wrong.
With his madness at 11, high creativity, and the vibrant colors of Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Skottie Young’s I Hate Fairyland has a lot of promise with a very strong, funny, and insane first issue and I feel like this is something that will become several people’s new favorite comic book. 4/5
If there is one thing to learn from Gwen Stacy as the Spider-Woman of Earth-65 is that you can never underestimate fan love. This version came from a miniseries that was building towards Spider-Verse, focusing on a different dimensional Spider-Person. The tale of Gwen Stacy’s Spider-Woman caught on immediately to the point that she got her own book and then Secret Wars happened. Yeah, but it’s back with another first issue!
Now the second first issue of Spider-Gwen is in a weird place, it’s introducing those that might not have read it before to this world, which is actually really nicely done in the origin recap/credits page at the beginning of the comic. You can get quickly caught up on the essential story thread and just go into it, but it’s also still a continuation of the previous volume of the book. It’s understandable how this could be considered an unapproachable book for new readers, but I think it’s fine. Again the recap page is concise and to the point as to what you need to know and that was the case with the first volume so I don’t expect that to change. Go on and tip your toe in the pool, see how it feels!
The characterization of E-65 Gwen Stacy is still the most fascinating thing since she is insanely compelling of a character with all that’s going on in her. Jason Latour clearly has put a lot of love and thought into her and simply just isn’t making this a gimmick. Latour also cares about the world of Earth-65 since it continuously fleshed out and just builds and builds with each issue. Here we get more, but also development on Gwen and Peter Parker in flashbacks and see how the inclusion of Harry Osborn is what led Peter Parker to become the Lizard, who may or may not be back with help of Curt Connors. The ending even gives us the E-65 version of a certain Avenger.
Robbi Rodriguez is still so distinctive and very good with his art and I like his style a lot. It gives a distinct look that’s really needed for something like this. You need to make the alternate world in which this takes place in stand out. I also really just like how he draws people. Some of them have a bit of an angular look to them that’s pulled off very well and helps make characters standout. It has fun with its setting and makes the book a blast to read. The art does a good job of conveying the more emotional beats when the story calls for it and he draws web-swinging and action so well. Rodriguez seems like a natural fit for Latour and colorist Rico Renzi certainly gives this book the flair it has.
Spider-Gwen introduces itself yet again in a mostly successful fashion. I still think having to restart this soon is a bit of a problem for the book. Hopefully the soon to be released trade of the first series helps fill in gaps for those just coming on to this book. We still get the story we need and some further world building, which is highly entertaining. I’m happy to get more Spider-Gwen. 4/5
I feel like honesty needs to start off the review for this book. I know jack all about Witchblade. I’ve been aware of it as a comic book and the TV show it was adapted into, but never really read it. I just never found the time and there was so much other stuff to read. Enter fan favorite comic creator Stjepan Šejić who is essentially pushing the reset button much in the vein of Ultimate Spider-Man.
Šejić is using his built up reputation from his previous work on Witchblade itself and his huge Internet following to craft a finely tuned story here that is my very first spoonful of the Witchblade mythology. Story here is that we follow awkward high schooler Mary who is the latest in the long line of wielders of the Witchblade and we go right into that. What I really love from this book is that the mythology isn’t bogging the story down in super heavy exposition. The book knows when it needs to do that and well some times its pretty clunky, but some times it flows nicely enough keep the story going. The story is simply set up as the forces of light and darkness fighting for world dominance and the Witchblade finds itself a new holder.
Back to Šejić’s writing, it’s not exactly the best. His handling of Mary and her bonding with the first Wichblade, Una, and the mysterious Twilight Empress is the best character stuff actually. That provided the book with the right amount of heart and care for those certain characters that made the last few pages of the book really interesting. The idea of Tony Estacado’s story is an intriguing one that’s introduced and will hopefully be further explored over the course of the book. I feel like that setup has so much potential. The humor of the book isn’t exactly great and mostly falls flat. Hopefully that can be improved.
One thing that is noticeable is how gorgeous this book is. Šejić is a phenomenal artist with a flair for detailed beauty. The visuals just dazzle your eyes and keeps your attention. It’s so beautiful and I can only imagine how much time he spends at the drafting table when putting his comics together. The art is the real star and one of my favorite parts of it is the splash page. It shows how far and to whom the Witchblade has reached and that gave me a sense of the full history I would need to read the rest of the book. Again the bonding with Una is also visually pleasing and also his colors are brilliant. This is a pretty book.
Needs some fine-tuning in the writing department, but it’s all solid for Switch #1. Its does a bang up job of being an introduction issue for a new book that’s part of a huge, already established universe and giving viewers some fun as well. I’m gonna check it out a little more. 3/5
The Twilight Children #1
Continuing the new Vertigo line is a book with some major clout as Gilbert Hernandez and Darwyn Cooke presenting The Twilight Children. This is a story set in a remote Latin American village where mysterious white orbs have been suddenly appearing and how it affects plenty of the people in said village.
Hernandez and Cooke are two of the biggest names in comics with so many great and very memorable books between the two so a book created by the two of them is a pretty big damn deal. Now Twilight Children has the feel of what Paper Girls is going for as well with something strange coming into a town and upstirring things with children at the center of it, albeit different time periods. Now the other difference is the approach in characters because here we get a full cast of characters. From the children to the local drunk to the affair between a fisherman and the wife of a local business owner. That’s aside from just the main protagonists and both approaches work for their respective books. The village here feels very real and alive with so much going on all over the place. It was a delight to see it and that the book has a wonderful light tone, with some dark undertones. Hernandez really lives up to his reputation of writing characters extremely well that help to hold up the story along with its plot. He also does a good job of building mysterious intrigue.
Darwyn Cooke, man do I love a chance to look at brand new Darwyn Cooke art. What can I say about him that hasn’t been said already? He’s a great artist and writer whose style never feels tired. His style works across a multitude of stories and has an amazing eye for storytelling. His look fits Hernandez perfectly and helps to make the village a vibrant place and gives such personality to all of its characters, also great design work as well. It wouldn’t feel out of place no matter the timeline. The panels move smoothly and swiftly with a brisk pace that Cooke nails incredibly. I’ve read this twice already and it’s just so pretty.
The Twilight Children keeps the new Vertigo line going strong with an encompassing story that paints such a broad picture with a wide cast of characters, intrigue, and amazing art. I’m certainly excited. 5/5
After a quick jaunt back to the past with Bruce’s early days as Batman, which was incredible, we get back to where we last left Jim Gordon as Batman and it wasn’t exactly the best situation.
Lucky Jim, his training and military past helps him considerably well and he’s able with some help from the suit itself to get out of the jam he’s in. It also seems it might also have cost him his position as Batman. Turns out going off the grid and trying to follow your own lead investigation isn’t the high interest of corporate investors. I’m still liking Jim Gordon as Batman. Most of his dialogue in the issue is the narration boxes to his inner thoughts during the beginning. They do such a great job of fleshing him out and adding more development to one of the most developed characters in comic book history. Snyder even does this without the boxes. His caring nature and role as Batman does a lot for him and he believes in his crusade.
On the flipside, the Bruce Wayne material is excellent. Seeing this new side of Bruce is simply great. To see him not remember a life as Batman and just simply be Bruce Wayne is fascinating and it also helps that Julie Madison is a supporting character now. Julie is clearly a further representation of the life Bruce would have if he hadn’t become Batman and kinda screw his life up so much by doing that. Julie is a great addition to the book and such a well-done character. I honestly look forward to her and Bruce’s scenes on the same level as all the big Batman stuff.
Duke continues his own little investigation as the to Bloom seed he found with Daryl’s help and really right now there still isn’t so much about Bloom. He is essentially a boogeyman character, but the last few exciting pages of the issue promise that Bloom will be getting a great spotlight soon and that Geri Powers is gonna need Jim to stay Batman. Also there was some weird stuff involving elements that really didn’t seem to amount to nothing or it could, who knows.
As for art, it’s still very much incredible. Greg Capullo’s pencils, Danny Miki inks, and FCO Plascencia’s colors are incredible. They continue to truly give this book an amazing look. Capullo really pulls off the small and big stuff so very well. He draws huge, epic action but also really nails the smaller parts that help give the story an impact upon its characters. What I also love is the panel borders. Whenever it’s Jim’s story, its black. Whenever its Bruce’s story, it’s the traditional white. It’s perfect symmetry to reflect the tones of each side of the story and I gotta say that the team is on point with that. The art is simply amazing.
Batman #45 is back to the present with its story and while a couple elements don’t fully gel, the issue itself fully is great. We get Batman being Batman, deep personal storytelling, some intriguing plot developments, and beautiful artwork. Batman keeps being DC’s crown jewel and this issue shows why! 4.5/5
Well I’ll see you in a couple of weeks. Vacation time for me. Until next time I shall continue flipping through the pages.